MULTAN/BADIN/KASUR/TANDO MUHAMMAD KHAN – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) were proved equally strong in Multan as they won one seat each in the by-polls held on Saturday.

According to the unofficial results, the PPP also retained the vacant seat NA-168 in Vehari, while the Awami National Party (ANP) was leading the much-awaited race for NA-09 Mardan.

But the festivities proved fatal, as aerial fire claimed a life during a rally by the PPP workers, as they celebrated the victory of Syed Musa Gilani, the PPP candidate and son of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. It resulted in immediate reaction by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who ordered an inquiry into the incident.

There were also reports of sporadic incidents of violence and a low voter turnout in other constituencies, as rivals used the opportunity to flex their muscles for the next general elections expected later in the year. In a disgusting incident, PPP candidate Waheeda Shah lost her temper at a polling station of PS-53 Tando Muhammad Khan and thrashed the polling staff.

A total of ten seats, six of National Assembly and four of provincial legislatures, were to be decided in the polls.

The National Assembly seats included NA-09 from Mardan, NA-140 from Kasur, NA-148 and NA-149 from Multan, NA-168 from Vehari and NA-195 from Rahim Yar Khan. The vacant Sindh Assembly constituencies were PS-57 from Badin and PS-53 from Tando Mohammad Khan, while polling also held in PP-44 from Mianwali and PP-18 from Attock in Punjab.

According to the unofficial results, the PPP bagged the vacant National Assembly seat (NA-168) from Vehari, as its candidate Natasha Doultana defeated her PML-N rival by obtaining more than 70,551 votes.

Makhdoom Mustafa Mehmood from PML-F was sure to gain the slot in the National Assembly after he bagged around 80,000 votes, while results from only a few polling stations still being awaited in NA 195. An independent was second with only 17,300 votes. The son of the deceased PML-N MPA, Adil Rokhari, won the PP-44 Mianwali polls after getting 45,670 votes.

In NA-9 Mardan, ANP candidate Himayatullah Mayar had so far bagged 30,566 votes, while his main rival, Shuja-ul-Mulk from JUI-F was trailing him with 24,177 votes.

But the battle between two independents for NA 140 Kasur was the most interesting one, as Dr Azeem-ud-Din Lakhvi got 47, 477 votes, while Malik Rashid, also enjoying the support of PML-N, obtained 47, 213 votes.

In NA-148 Multan, Moosa Gilani had bagged 93,000 votes against Abdul Ghaffar Dogar with 45,098. Sheikh Tariq Rasheed from the PML-N (36,176 votes) was the lead contender against the PPP nominee, former MNA Malik Liaquat Dogar, (23, 762) in NA 149. Results from 148 polling stations out of the 295 had so far been collected so far.

In Sindh, Waheeda Shah had so far bagged 15,875 votes, while her independent rival Mir Mushtaq Ali Talpur got 8,464 in PP 53 Tando Muhammad Khan.

The son of former Sindh home minister Zulfiqar Mirza, Barrister Husnain Mirza, remained successful in PP 57 Badin, by securing 40,901 votes, while his nearest rival Syed Ali Bakhsh Shah bagged 7,866 bags. Over 10 persons were injured, as the supporters of electoral rivals clashed at various polling stations in the constituency.

The polling started in Multan at 8 am and continued till 5 pm without any interval, although it remained suspended at four polling stations for a short period.

At least four persons were injured during scuffles at Jhoke Lashkar and Basti Gull polling stations in NA-148. Similarly, polling remained suspended for a short period at polling stations at the Kabootar Mandi and Shamasabad areas in NA-149 as the workers of both PPP and PML-N accused each other of using fake voter lists. However, no major mishap was reported and the voters cast their votes in a peaceful atmosphere. A rumour regarding the murder of a PPP worker by the activists of PML-N circulated in the city but neither the police nor the hospital sources confirmed it.

Both the seats got vacant due to resignations submitted Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Javed Hashmi after they joined the PTI.

In Tando Muhammad Khan, PPP candidate Waheeda Shah accused the polling staff of rigging and slapped the female staff on the face in the presence of police and voters.

Waheeda said the polling staff was allowing fake voting. “This made me lose my temper and I hit the staff,” she admitted, but she admitted her mistake.

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Election Commissioner Sono Khan Baloch said he had telephoned the returning officer concerned, seeking details of the incident, adding that strict action would be taken on a complaint in writing.

In Vehari, the polling was temporarily halted at a polling station after it was alleged that the PPP polling agent was stamping the ballot papers himself.